Albert Lawundeh, TSE photographer

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bedtime in Bo

Bedtime at the CRC is one of the best times of the day for teams that travel there - and no, I'm not talking about finally falling into bed at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) after a long day of working hard (although that has it's merit too)! One of the traditions for teams traveling to Bo is that we get to spend the last hours of the day with the children, reading them stories and then listening to them sing before they go off to their own beds.

Usually teams split up - sometimes along gender lines, but sometimes not, and visit with the children in the common rooms or lounges in their respective dorms. The children crowd in, sitting on the tables, arms of the couches and each others' or missionaries' laps and listen to stories (or tell them). And finally, as we wrap up, they sing.

Africans harmonize differently than Americans, and when they sing, they sing loudly and with conviction. It's hard not to be moved no matter what they sing, but most of the missionaries who travel to the CRC are most moved by a song called "Reconciliation Song". Part of the Peace and Reconciliation Movement, the song reflects the terrible civil war that tore Sierra Leone apart, and how in the wake of all of that, it is the mandate of God that we forgive those who have committed atrocities against us.

If you know of Sierra Leone's war at all, and what these children suffered at the hands of the RUF, and then you hear them sing this song at the top of their voices with passion and conviction, then you get to witness the true redemptive power of forgiveness. If you've ever seen the film Blood Diamond, or read Ishmael Beah's book, A Long Way Gone, you'll have some small idea of what these children have lived through and survived. It is one of the most humbling experiences I've ever had in my life. The first time I heard the girls sing this song (the boys sing it too, but my first time was in the girls' dorm), I couldn't breathe. These children have witnessed the very depths of human depravity; the worst that human beings have to offer....and yet, they have the power to forgive.

Here is a link to a video of the girls singing the Reconciliation Song. Don't pay attention to the video part - it was shot with a video camera, but you can't see anything (Africa at night is DARK). But listen to it. Below are the lyrics:

They are moving

The Angels of place and reconciliation are moving the gospel (soldiers)

We want peace, we want love, and reconciliation

Brethren, let's love one another for this is the commandment God gave us.

Yes we know and we that our leader have really wronged us

For they have killed our fathers, killed our mothers

for they have destroyed all our resources and yet still oh my brethren

Le's forgive, we just have to do it,

for its a command that is given by God

Everyday we sin and God forgives

They are moving (repeat chorus)

Yes we know and we know

that prayer is the only key

How can we serve God and Man -

When God is a jealous God?

Let's forgive, we just have to do it

for its a command that is given by God,

Everyday we sin and God forgives

Well, that puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

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